Globalization and the National Security State

In This Review

Globalization and the National Security State
By Norrin M. Ripsman,T.V. Paul
Oxford University Press, USA, 2010
296 pp. $27.95

A lively debate exists among scholars over the impact of economic interdependence on conflict and war. Liberals have traced the ways in which rising economic linkages create national interests and political constituencies that favor stable and peaceful relations, whereas realists have noted that statesmen often ignore considerations of economic gain and loss in decisions about war and peace. This study by two Canadian political scientists casts a critical eye on the expansive claims of “globalization theorists” who argue that the decline of great-power war and the rise of nontraditional security challenges -- such as terrorism, drug trafficking, and the environment -- are eroding the traditional national-security orientation of states. Is globalization altering the way security policy is being conducted at the global level? Are states reducing military expenditures, refocusing their attention on new transnational security threats, and ceding authority to nonstate actors and international organizations? Examining global and regional trends in how states have pursued security since the end of the Cold War, Ripsman and Paul find less change than might be expected. The wealth generated by globalization has led some states to increase defense spending, and the security policies of major states are still responsive to realist-style security challenges. At times, Ripsman and Paul are in danger of shooting at a straw man. Although some pundits in the 1990s might have suggested that globalization was leading to the “demise” of the state, most scholars today see more mixed and contingent effects of growing interdependence on how states pursue security. If the world needs more security cooperation, it is states that will need to provide it.